In 2008, 2010, 2012, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 Luthiers Sans Frontières-UK has run training missions in Haiti. These missions have played an important part in supporting orchestral music in Haiti and as a consequence, workshops now exist in many music schools and the resident luthiers continue to build their skills. For every mission, each Haitian music school send us one or more of their student so we can teach them bow rehairing, setting up, advanced repairs and how to preserve instrument from damaging.
We are now three persons in charge of this project : Svavar Garri Kristjánsson, Monika Gapinska and Julie Folio, three former students of the Newark School of Violin Making in Newark on Trent, England. Garri is employed at Tim Toft Violins (UK), Monika is now employed in a workshop in Zurich (Switzerland) and Julie in France.
How did we get into this project ?
Robert Cain, one of the three main member of the LSF-UK committee, is also a teacher in the violin making school where both of us have been taught. He would always display the report of the LSF-UK missions he was going to on the notice board of the school, it felt like this organisation was part of our everyday school life. And this day happen when Luthiers Sans Frontières-UK received a grant from the Fresh Leaf Charitable Foundation, enough funds so two more volunteers could join the next mission in Haiti. We both applied for it, got in, and now trying to carry the project as far as possible.
July 2015/2016 (Resume of our reports)
In July 2015, we took a flight from London to Haiti, and discovered the country, its people and the joy of teaching to those incredibly motivated students. We honestly couldn’t believe their enthusiast and their thirst for knowledge. We started organizing short theory classes as the work we all had to do was enormous, it was a lot of instruments and bows to fix already and more were coming everyday. We stayed 3 weeks in two different music camp (Cemucha and Cange). Tools and equipment were donated but mainly bought thanks to the grant. That year, Robert Cain came with us as he knew the organizers of the music camp, some student and could show us the keys points of the “teaching in Haiti“. It was his last mission in this country as he decided to focus on other project of the organisation and because we could then take over this project.
So we’ve decided to raise money and collect other donation on the side for this project in Haiti to make sure we could go back every year as long as we are needed there.
That way we managed to go back the next summer for two weeks, just the both of us this time. Half of our students attended the 2015 camp and the other half were new students. It was great to see them again and realized that they kept practicing the whole year and could then help the new students.
Because this is our aim : making sure that they will be able to do the job for their music school, teach the next generation and help each other. Making sure that we don’t have to come back to prove that the mission was a success.
Slowly, it all starts happening now thanks to an Haitian calling himself Tchoupy who’s been training with LSF-UK for a few years, now teaching violin repairs in Haiti and being part of our teaching staff during our missions.